Monday, November 26, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

Andy and Kate have been some crazy places, but nothing comes close to the craziness of the Orlando Pirates vs. Kaiser Chiefs match that we went to on Saturday.

It’s very difficult to convey the passion that soccer supporters feel both for the sport and for their specific team.

Some of it comes through in the outfits that they choose.

The Orlando Pirates and Kaiser Chiefs are old-school rivals, both being from Soweto and both usually ranking towards the top of the heap in the Premier Soccer League. Most soccer fans in South Africa identify themselves as either Chiefs or Pirates fans. Fanship is hereditary, if your father is a Chief, you are a Chief.

We arrived about two hours early to the stadium, where a rockin’ dance party was already well underway. This soccer match truly is the event of the year (if South Africans are showing up early, you know it’s a big deal). This photo was taken an hour before the match even started.

The match was played at ABSA Stadium in Durban, the site of the earlier car theft (we took a taxi this time), which was full almost to capacity (55,000!). The match organizers didn’t sell 5,000 tickets to avoid too much craziness.

There was plenty of craziness…

But no problems.

The family that we live with, the Motales, are a Pirates family, so we dressed in black as Pirates supporters. The usually-mellow Danny Motale was reduced almost to tears by the Pirates’ first goal.

The Pirate’s have several team names, due to South Africans’ love of nicknames. “Pirates” takes the easy leap to “Buccaneers,” which turns into “The Bucs,” and our favorite “BAKABAKA!”

The team motto is “Happy People.”

There were plenty of happy people in ABSA Stadium all through the match, which was an exciting and well-played game that ended in, of all things, a tie. 2-2.

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